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A Californian pornographer is suing Google for copyright infringement alleging the search engine's image search is giving people free peeks at its mucky pictures. The company also complains that Google links to sites offering fake passwords.

In the lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles the company - Perfect 10 - asks for unspecified damages from the search engine for giving illegal access to its copyrighted material. Perfect 10 publishes a magazine and offers access to its website for a $25 monthly fee. It complains that anyone using Google's image search can see Perfect 10 pictures without paying for them.

Norm Zada, president of Perfect 10, told Reuters: "They're showing the pictures from my magazine and my website for free so there's no reason for anyone to buy my products. To add insult to injury, they give away my user names and passwords.".

Nada told the newswire that he had sent about 30 formal requests for Google to remove copyright material before taking legal action. A US court ruled in 2002 that websites may display thumbnail size images without breaking the law.

In January Nada launched legal action against Mastercard, Visa and other credit card companies complaining that they were facilitating trade in pirated images. At the time he told Reuters he'd lost $29m since setting the site up in 1996, including $8m spent on legal fees. ®

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